4/18/2009

Golden Fleece Storytelling Conference







Spent the day at the Golden Fleece Storytelling Conference. Rich with ideas about storytelling.

More later.

Here is the more - but not much more. Whenever I say I will come back I feel like I should close that circle. But the more I have thought about the conference the less I have to say. So, a couple of highlights:

1. How Pictures Can Promote. Provoke, and Prolong Communication This was a great workshop - just my cup of tea although I never would have guessed it from the pretentious and almost off-putting title. But the corporate language could not stifle the imagination and enthusiasm of Pernille Stockfleth, a dynamic and charming storyteller from Denmark.

My camera battery failed me so I had to copy this photo from her web-site and I am so sorry its not in color. I wish you could see her halo of red hair. Before meeting her I had made a note in my book about the woman with the Little Orphan Annie hair-do.

Pernille introduced the group to a set of picture cards, Dialoogle - which can be used as ice-breakers, or dialogue starters, or in my thinking, story-prompts. You can see the organization purpose here to have more meaningful staff discussions by warming up the group or getting past barriers. The pictures are wide-ranging, and generic. They leave lots of room for anyone to enter the picture and find a jumping off place for a story. I loved them - and was delighted when Pernille gave each participant a set.

This was the closest I came to a real storytelling experience in the time I was at the conference. And it was really quite enriching and nice.

I hate to say it but some of what I sat in on was a bit too corporate for my taste or too focused on audience participation to send me away feeling satisfied. You know how it is, people come with agendas and that's what they talk about from the floor.

2. Paul Costello, who gave the morning keynote talk was enthusiastic, winning and very enjoyable to listen to especially his Australian accent. His presentation while mostly down-to-earth and accessible did stray into deep academic waters from time to time. The topic, "Why Story Matters Now More that Ever Before" was pretty broad for a one hour talk but what I heard as the center of his thesis is that the world has changed and the old stories don't work anymore so we had better begin to develop new stories to restore trust and beliefs. I can buy that.

What made more sense to me was - when there has been a seismic shift in the world we have to recognize it to begin to re-story for the changes. That's the truth of his talk I brought home and will think about - but I am taking it to a more personal level. If you have had a seismic shift in your personal life its important to recognize it so you don't try to live by the old stories.

3. The Saturday gathering was small. That surprised me and I enjoyed it. There were a few familiar faces in the group and it was lovely to see these other storytellers. The other participants were smiling and friendly. One person told me this was her ninth Golden Fleece and there were many others who were also regulars and enjoying being with friends. As a first timer I envied their commaraderie as I watched them enteract with each other. One man, a partner for an audience exercise, told me how much he values these friends and the passion for stories they share.

By the end of the day I once more understood that storytelling can mean many things from narrative work, branding, advocacy pitching to what I do and love, oral storytelling. And -sometimes the edges blur true - but they are not the same.